The Blasters Show the Young'uns How It's Done

Phil Alvin looked lean and mean leading the Blasters Saturday night.
Phil Alvin looked lean and mean leading the Blasters Saturday night.
Photos by Jason Wolter

The Blasters Continental Club February 14, 2015

Old age and treachery will overcome youth and exuberance every time. No one who saw the Blasters, the everlasting kings of early-'80s roots-rock, at the Continental Valentine's night has much doubt about the truth of this old saw about the value of experience and perspective.

Take leader Phil Alvin, fresh off a 2015 Grammy nomination. Less than two years ago he suffered a heart incident that nearly killed him while on tour in Spain, but Saturday night he looked lean and mean and ready to whip somebody's ass for the slightest transgression. While Alvin evidenced a slight limp in his gait as he climbed the stairs to the stage, these days he projects the gravitas of the heads on Mt. Rushmore. He roared lines like "one bad stud" like the young lion of old.

Original Blasters mates Bill Bateman (drums) and John Bazz (bass) were so square-jawed stoic and workmanlike they should be made to wear the uniform of the guards at Buckingham Palace when they perform. For all the power of their rhythms, they projected an aplomb that could adorn the face of an Egyptian sphinx or a Reclining Buddha. Both men's visage says "I've had my union card a long time, I know what the job is, don't mess with me when I'm workin'."

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Meanwhile guitar ace Keith Wyatt, the newest Blaster with only 18 years in his tenure, stalked his side of the stage like a suave Reddy Kilowatt, supplying all the voltage essential to this breakneck ensemble.

As with a vintage car show, audiences don't come to the Blasters for new and shiny, they come to see the old cars that are still in mint condition and of better quality than the new breeds, and Alvin and his crew didn't disappoint. For men in their 60s in the midst of a longish tour, they appeared to thoroughly enjoy taking the crowd through the Blasters' classics: "Marie, Marie," "Blue Shadows," the Dwight Yoakam hit ""Long White Cadillac," and more than a dozen more.

They also put rocket fuel in the hilarious Leiber-Stoller stomp "One Bad Stud," and hit "Trouble Bound" -- "I don't think twice when the sun goes down, I'm trouble bound, trouble bound" -- like they were going to break it in two. The crowd ate it up like that greasy Detention Burger from Barney's Burger Bus and then begged for seconds.

Girls, you think you've had lovin'? Girls, you think you've had fun? Girls, you ain't had nothin' Until the Daddy comes

Returning to the car-show analogy, the Blasters proved to be a stately, wax-polished old Bentley of rock and roll, still firing on all cylinders and acting like it had never heard of a junkyard.

Personal Bias: I was hoping original member pianist Gene Taylor, who played with them the night before in Austin, would make the ride to Houston. Didn't happen.

Overheard In the Crowd: "These guys are the Roman Legion of rock and roll."

The Crowd: Mostly old-schoolers who know what rock and roll really is.

Random Notebook Dump: Phil Alvin was singing in such fine, vigorous form on "Daddy Rollin' Stone," James Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis stopped arguing about who is the greatest and just listened to the man bring it.

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